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INSIDE MAN

About The Production
Academy Award®-winning producer Brian Grazer and Oscar®-nominated visionary Spike Lee first met at the Academy ceremonies many years ago. Lee had been nominated in 1990 in the category of Best Original Screenplay for Do the Right Thing, and Grazer had been nominated in the same category for Splash five years prior. Throughout the years, they'd met intermittently in the hopes of collaborating on different projects, but nothing had come to fruition. Inside Man presented just the opportunity for these history-making filmmakers to finally work together.

Grazer had recently purchased a cunningly written thriller titled Inside Man from newcomer Russell Gewirtz, to be made at Universal Pictures. While scouting for a director who could take this smartly written action drama from page to screen, a chance meeting resulted in Lee's reading the script and signing on to direct the project. Not often does a story come along that can challenge a seasoned director so completely. Lee, who has made hard-hitting social commentary films for the past few decades, welcomed the opportunity to helm a smart, sophisticated, pressure-cooker thriller. He lauds, "Russell Gewirtz wrote a fresh, intriguing take on the genre of the bank robbery heist, and I liked the script and really wanted to do it. Dog Day Afternoon is one of my favorite films, and this story was a contemporary take on that kind of movie.”

Grazer recognized that with Inside Man, the time had finally come for the longdiscussed collaboration with Lee. Grazer recalls, "When we met this time, Spike said, ‘We've had meetings and false starts, but I promise you we're going to have a great finish.' He looked me straight in the eye, grabbed my arm and said, ‘Let's do it.'” Grazer was as excited about the script as he was about working with Lee. "For me, originality is the thing,” he explains. "A script has to make me feel curious, and at no point can I feel complacent. In this story, it was the red herring aspect that I liked— not knowing why things were happening and later having everything revealed in such a satisfying and surprising way. These twists and turns really took the model of a heist film in a new and interesting direction.”

Grazer and Lee's first-time partnership wasn't the film's only new collaboration. For a project to unite such an award-winning, accomplished assembly of cast and filmmakers, one might assume the crafty screenplay had come from a veteran screenwriter. But Russell Gewirtz holds the rare distinction of seeing his first original screenplay produced, directed and performed by some of the most distinguished talents in the business.

After dabbling in several careers, Gewirtz spent several years living in Europe and South America, where he says the idea for Inside Man gelled. "I had some version of this story in my head for five or six years, and then crucial elements started coming together. I bounced the pitch off my good friend Daniel Rosenberg [later the film's executive producer].” After over a year of work on Gewirtz's script, Rosenberg shopped the finished version to a handful of the top Los Angeles agencies. One of those agents sent it to Imagine, and the rest is Hollywood history.

Reflecting on the process, the writer notes, "To say that I've been spoiled by this would be an understatement. It was surreal to come to the first table reading and sit down to Denzel, Clive, Jodie and Christopher delivering lines that I wrote. Then we begin filming, and I watch Spike orchestrate the entire production.” Not only was Gewirtz impressed by the all-stars bringing his words to film, he was amazed at the production value of the Inside Man set. "The team imagined and constructed an entire bank based on a few lines I put to paper four years ago. Unbelievable.”

Grazer and Lee knew they had a story on their hands that, while quite<

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